For a large part of the past few decades, responsibility of a company has been defined as the impact of the company on the environment it exists in and the society. This triple bottom line framework – PEOPLE, PLANET and PROFIT, has been widely adopted by many organizations. In the increasingly digital world, where computers become faster, smaller and ubiquitous, some new thinking may be needed to add to this paradigm. Artificial intelligence and extremely powerful computers will transform the relationship between people and technology in radical ways. A large number of jobs may be automated, new skills may be required as technology forces people to adapt faster to different processes and needs.
International Data Corporation (IDC) comes up with annual predictions on various aspects of these markets and the agenda for the CIO. IDC in October this year unveiled the IDC-FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2019 Predictions. While the predictions largely focus on the ongoing trends of digitisation, they also highlight that technology is now a force multiplier for innovation and disruption. This implies that if companies are not digitally transforming at an aggressive pace, it is most likely that by 2022, just over two-thirds of their total addressable markets will be gone.
Most conversations around digital disruption focus on the fact that this is the biggest problem facing companies, while a deeper look reveals that digital disruption is more of a people problem than anything else. This is because technology, many times, changes faster than people can adapt to it. Amit Malhotra, Managing Director of IDC India and South Asia says, “As organisations look for new avenues of growth, there is an unavoidable need for expansion. Addition of new facilities and services inevitably adds to the organization’s carbon footprint on the environment. Smart companies are operating businesses that use renewable resources, deploy low-carbon technologies and ensure sustainable sourcing of resources for addressing the challenges of climate change. However, to be truly responsible in the digital age, organisations need to look at society building measures like skill enhancement and new workforce development with a long-term view. All these measures collaboratively will result into better performing and more responsible organizations.”
He further adds, “Organizations in pursuit of growth are inevitably confronted by 2 major challenges – The fist is keeping up with the technological pace of change and the second is ensuring availability of relevant and always updated skills for their workforce. While tackling the pace of change is being handled by many organisations in ways ranging from faster adoption of new technologies, and tailor building technological solutions, the skill set challenge is a trickier one. Sourcing, hiring and retaining a workforce which possesses relevant, timely and updated skills which can enable the businesses to be robust, responsive and agile is a real issue these days.”
Responsibility in the era of the 4th industrial revolution as the digital world is being called these days, calls for organisations to re-examine their purpose and re-define their relationship to customers, employees, and the underlying information they are sitting on. The organisations of the future will be more responsive, faster to turnaround and will be able to find a solution to any problem. However, all this will not require traditional ways of working like 9 to5 jobs or physical working spaces. Employees can be located anywhere, without being required to be physically present at the same location. This will be enabled by new technologies which will transform the workspace, culture and workforce. Additionally, the leaders will need to be ready for a new set of expectations from the workforce, which will be largely consisting of Millennials and Gen Z. This set of people would expect to be measured by a different set of KPIs, their needs and motivations will be very different and their methods of acquiring skill sets will also differ from all past generations.
Says Amit, “New leaders need to be aware of these challenges and accordingly get ready to respond and act. Next generation leaders must focus on the workforce, workspace, work culture to create a collaborative human resource asset that fuels innovation within their organization. They need to foster an environment which calls for more collaboration, borderless working and a fluid work culture.”
Based on a conversation with Amit Malhotra, Managing Director of IDC India and South Asia